Staff Profile: Monika Rohde

Senior Associate Dean
Undergraduate Student Success and Advising
Long Island and New York City
Joined New York Tech
Staff Profile: Monika Rohde

Helping Students Thrive

As someone who changed her career trajectory mid-stream, Senior Associate Dean for Student Success and Advising Monika Rohde understands how hard it can be to form a long-term plan early in an academic career. However, she still advises students to keep their eyes on the prize. “Don’t forget why you are here,” she says when asked what advice she would offer to first-year students. “It’s sometimes hard to be motivated when a goal is four or five years away, but not only does that time pass quickly, the impact of your efforts in this short amount of time will have a lifetime of impact. So, study hard, use your resources, and ask all the questions you need to ask. And have fun along the way.”

Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
I am a first-generation American. My parents were immigrants, my mother from Peru and my father from Germany. My mother was a stay-at-home mom and raised my brother and me, so we learned Spanish at the same time as English. My father owned a small business and put my brother and me to work at a very young age. I did so many different jobs, from working in a factory folding freshly printed t-shirts and sweatshirts, to doing the bookkeeping as a 13-year-old, to making deliveries once I was able to drive. It truly was a family business in every sense.

Even though neither of my parents had gone to college, they both thought education was critically important for me and my brother. I went to college to study physical therapy but decided a bit late in the game that it wasn’t for me (four-and-a-half years into a five-year combined degree program). I knew that education was the key to continued growth, so I went to work while pursuing my master’s degree, and that decision is what opened the door to what ended up being my dream job in advising.

What brought you to New York Tech?
When I moved back to New York a few years after living and working in Boston, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I was still finding my way after having changed course from my original goal of becoming a physical therapist. I wanted to pursue a master’s degree, so I decided to look for work at a college to help pay for it. I started working at New York Tech in the Registrar’s office, and three years later, I moved into advising. Right away, I loved it, and it eventually became my career. Fun fact: And I only found this out after I moved into my advising role, if you look up the meaning of my name, Monika, it means advisor!

Advising is a truly fulfilling field. I did not have someone at my undergraduate college with whom I connected or who was able to help guide me through difficult decisions, so being in a position to help provide that kind of support to students is very gratifying.

How does your work here and the mentoring programs you lead impact the student experience at New York Tech?
The student experience is always the focus of the work that my team and I do. We’re all here to see students get their degrees and achieve their goals. The programs and services that we provide directly serve to support that, whether it is providing academic advising support to help keep students on track, providing academic tutoring to help students through challenging coursework or offering programs that provide students with personalized academic coaches to help guide them through a rough patch. Paramount to positively impacting the student experience is being kind so that students feel supported and at ease.

We have gone all-in with academic coaching and mentoring in the past few years. Two programs, in particular, lead the charge. Those are the ACE and iAchieve programs, as well as our First-Year GUIDE program.

The ACE and iAchieve programs were designed to provide holistic support to eligible undergraduate students who need to raise their cumulative GPA to meet scholarship requirements. That support includes an academic coach (faculty or staff), personally assigned by matching interests or expertise. The academic coach connects to the student throughout the semester, helps them get through or past obstacles that may be in their way, and serves as a personal champion for that student’s success.

The First-Year GUIDE program offers incoming first-year students year-round support by way of Peer Success Guides (or peer mentors) who reach out to their students, help them through their transition from high school to college, and encourage them to engage with their peers, the campus, and their New York Tech community.

In both programs, the benefits are seen not only in the students who choose to engage with their coaches/mentors, but also in the coaches and mentors themselves.

Have you seen many success stories because of these programs?
Yes! It’s wonderful to see the success of the students who have been through these programs. Those who participated in ACE, for example, have been more likely to persist, and we are now seeing the first cohort of students graduate and, in some cases, move on to graduate programs. In fact, we hired one as a graduate assistant who is now helping us with the program and serving as a coach himself.

In the First-Year GUIDE program, we are seeing (hopefully) life-long friendships develop between peers in the same group but also between first-year students and their Peer Success Guides.

What are some services or opportunities that people may not realize they have access to or that are underutilized?
All of them! There is so much available, and that can get overwhelming. But there is a service or person who can likely help—and wants to help!—with most of the issues that may arise along the way, you just have to ask.

One specific thing worth mentioning is academic tutoring (which we provide through the Learning Center). Tutoring can help not only with a challenging subject but in creating the habits and consistency a student might need to stay on top of the materials. It connects students with a peer tutor who has taken the course before (successfully), and it opens the door for connecting with a tutor for overall assistance and guidance in one’s major and at New York Tech.

This interview has been edited and condensed.